in pieces

This morning there’s a red-breasted nuthatch hanging out with the chickadees. I thought I saw a more elegant small body on the wisteria and sure enough, a nuthatch with its elegant eyeliner was perched on a long lateral branch.


I call the chickadees “the sillies” because they come to the window over the kitchen sink if their feeder is empty; they jump around on the narrow sill. They know the food comes from that direction and I like the reminder. They’re a constant. Winters, summers. Last summer a pair nested in one of the cedar boxes John built for violet-green swallows. We watched them dart in and out and just by chance John was standing by the big window facing the arbutus tree where the box is and saw the moment — it happened within five minutes! — when all six nestlings left home. Each one peered out the opening, cheered on by the others who were waiting in the nearby mountain ash. It took courage to try their wings for the first time, to alight on a branch of ash and find their balance. Here’s the last one, a bit more reluctant that the others.


This morning I’m trying to find a way to finish an essay for my forthcoming collection, Euclid’s Orchard. I thought I had all the preliminary work done — five essays drafted and ready for an editor’s eye. But then my publisher suggested I might want to add one more. And I do have one in pieces. Literally. I’ve been looking at it and wondering how to knit the sections together, to find a way to provide a seam. But this morning I think I might leave it in pieces. There’s a logic for this. They are all discrete elements and the way they’re connected is through memory. The online Oxford Dictionary defines “essay” this way”:

Late 15th century (as a verb in the sense ‘test the quality of’): alteration of assay, by association with Old French essayer, based on late Latin exagium ‘weighing’, from the base of exigere ‘ascertain, weigh’; the noun (late 16th century) is from Old French essai ‘trial’.

So let this one be that. An attempt, a trial. It’s certainly a kind of weighing. Its title? Well, right now it’s “Ballast”.

This is the second day of our Midwinter Chamber Music Weekend in Pender Harbour. The summer Chamber Music Festival I’m involved with has created this weekend for those of us who love intimate chamber concerts whatever the season. Violinist Corey Cerovsek, cellist Adrian Brendel, and pianist Michelle Mares treated us to a beautiful concert yesterday, including the ravishing César Franck Violin Sonata in A Major and the Beethoven “Archduke” Piano Trio. Today? Ravel, Chopin, and Johannes Brahms (the Trio No.2 in C Major). Can’t wait.